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Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)

By Steve Kim


There was plenty of boxing programming on this Saturday from Showtime’s tripleheader in our nation’s capital, the HBO rebroadcast of Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley II, “Solo Boxeo” on UniMas and a fight card from the U.K. on AWE to “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley,” “All Access: Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana” and “Road to Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado.” Some random thoughts on what was shown this past weekend...
 
- Admittedly, Bernard Hopkins is an acquired taste. He’s the type of guy who only the connoisseurs of the “Sweet Science” truly appreciate. But whatever you think of him or his style, he really is a once-in-a-lifetime type of athlete and, at age 49, a physical marvel (although some will point out he has never done any “real” drug-testing). Hopkins is a testament to a disciplined lifestyle that borders on monastic. He showed that again in absolutely mastering Beibut Shumenov, a man nearly two decades his junior, to unify the WBA and IBF light heavyweight belts and setting up a Showtime showdown against the recognized 175-pound champion, Adonis Stevenson.

Once again the “Alien” was able to slow the tempo of the fight and box at his own pace. It’s really amazing if you think about it; you don’t have to be Angelo Dundee to understand that against a man so advanced in age, you should try and press the action and make Hopkins work as much as possible three minutes at a time. It’s almost as if he’s doing Jedi mind tricks to slow these fights down to a crawl. Hopkins is no longer the “Executioner,” who once was actually a pretty vicious knockout puncher. Nowadays he’s about craftiness and timeless fundamentals. He has a perfect stance (chin tucked in behind his front shoulder, which are angled and his right hand is always near his cheek) and an ability to either disappear in front of you or smother you inside.
 
And as the fight went on, Hopkins got better offensively, throwing more and more right hands and eventually floored Shumenov in the 11th, capping off the night by letting his hands go in the 12th. This was a true master at work against a 15-fight novice. The scorecards (and more on that later) didn’t truly reflect the dominance Hopkins exhibited on this evening.
 
- But we must be honest; Shumenov – whose initials coincidentally are “B.S.” - simply isn’t all that good. It’s not like Hopkins just defeated Michael Spinks or, hell, even a Cedric Agnew. It’s safe to say Shumenov is one of the worst beltholders in recent memory. Before Hopkins took him to school, Gabriel Campillo did such twice. Shumenov lost by majority decision in their first go-round but only won by split decision in their rematch. He is muscular but also very stiff and rigid and seemingly came into this contest with no discernible game plan other than to be mesmerized by the old master. He seems more talented at being politically connected in the sport of boxing than actually boxing. Part of the story with Shumenov was that he basically trained himself.
 
Well, after this inept outing, Shumenov should fire his trainer and hire a new one.
 
- Simply put, Judge Gustavo Padilla, who somehow had Shumenov beating Hopkins by a score of 114-113, shouldn’t just be barred from scoring another bout at ringside but banned from ever being at another professional fight card. Good grief; this guy probably had the Broncos beating the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
 
- Peter Quillin was dominant but hardly impressive in winning a 12-round decision over Lucas Konecny to retain his WBO middleweight title. Konecny tried hard throughout the night but there’s a reason he was given the green light by Al Haymon: he was a career junior middleweight, who, at age 35, had all of 23 stoppages in 54 pro bouts. He really was no threat to “Kid Chocolate,” who still showed he has defensive holes and never came close to really halting Konecny.
 
Quillin can talk a good game about wanting the likes of Sergio Martinez or Gennady Golovkin but he very well knows because of the constructs of the “Cold War” that exists in the business, for the time being, he won’t have to take on such risks. Instead he’ll continue to be paid well in facing second and third-tier 160-pounders. Right now, he looks like a guy who is keeping that belt warm for Golden Boy Promotions/Showtime/Haymon before the likes of, say, Saul Alvarez or Floyd Mayweather decide to move up and win a middleweight belt. The “Cold War” is actually very good for Quillin. It not only protects him; it pays him very well in the process.
 
- Shawn Porter sure has come a long way from that guy who struggled life-and-death versus Julio Diaz not that long ago. Now he’s got successive victories over Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi after rampaging the “Magic Man” in four. Simply put, he was too strong, too young and too-everything for Malignaggi, who looked like an aged fighter who could no longer get out of the way of stuff he used to routinely avoid. You knew Malignaggi was in trouble when he was getting out-jabbed by Porter, who hurt him in the second and third frames, floored him in the fourth and then finished him savagely along the ropes. At age 26, Porter looks like a guy going places.
 
Malignaggi, who was taken to the hospital and then released, has a nice soft landing for him at Showtime, where he has become a superlative boxing analyst. For my money, he’s the best commentator out of all the (ex-)fighters around. However, I did take exception to his pre-fight interviews in which he once again accused Manny Pacquiao of PED usage and was downright disrespectful of his upcoming foe. Here’s what I posted on Facebook on late Saturday evening:
 
This was a bit of a [Karmic] KO of Paulie Malignaggi, who was very close to being slanderous of Manny Pacquiao and dismissive of his former sparring partner, Shawn Porter before their fight.
 
It’s funny; while he was training at the Wild Card, Paulie wasn’t running his mouth or being so bold about his claims about Manny and PEDs (meanwhile, while never being bold enough to ever bring [those] issues up while on the Showtime pulpit) but suddenly as he was 3,000 miles away - well, he was suddenly the boldest guy in all of boxing.
 
And by the way, he’s never done any real “extra” testing, himself, Paulie. I guess “Do as I say, not as I do,” is his philosophy. It’s funny how this comes about as he is aligned with Showtime and now, Al Haymon. It came off as being a corporate puppet, IMO.
 
Then he gave Porter no respect. Well, we saw what happened.
 
I like Paulie. I think he’s an excellent analyst and someone who made the most out of his ability and had a very good career. But he started to sound more and more like a corporate mouthpiece with a clear agenda leading into this fight based on who he was aligned with.
 
As for Porter and his father, Kenny, they have come a long way from that young prospect who came into the Wild Card Boxing Club (and would actually do mitts with his father while blindfolded - yeah, seriously). In back-to-back fights, he has defeated Devon Alexander and Malignaggi. Not bad at all.”
 
- In viewing the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley on TV for the first time, I still came away with the same scorecard I had last weekend while ringside: 116-112 for the “Pac-Man.” It was an entertaining affair between two world-class fighters. Pacquiao, while not in his prime, is still an elite fighter. As for Bradley, I’ve always admired his grit and physical conditioning. I think he showed again in defeat that he is one of the toughest competitors in the sport.
 
- As we speak, the three best fights I’ve seen in 2014 all took place in the U.K. You had Gary Buckland’s razor-thin split verdict over Gavin Rees, Tommy Coyle’s dramatic come-off-the-canvas-several-times-from-body-blows knockout of Daniel Brizuela and now Anthony Crolla’s tough victory over John Murray. Early on, Murray had things going his way, backing up Crolla along the ropes and ripping to the body. For the first half of this fight, you wondered how Crolla would survive the onslaught but through some well-timed, well-placed counter-shots, Crolla would turn the tide of the fight late and stop Murray in the 10th. Hats off to promoter Eddie Hearn, who is doing an incredible job of matchmaking this year.
 
- Also on this AWE card was a personal favorite of mine as WBA super bantamweight titlist Scott Quigg TKO’ed South African Tshifhiwa Munyai in two (who had never been stopped in 27 previous bouts) with an impressive display of accuracy and power. I would love to see him fight countryman Carl Frampton in what I have described before as the British version of Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales. But just like in the States, there are conflicts as it relates to promoters and television networks that will most likely prevent that from becoming a reality.
 
Uh, sound familiar?
 
- What I learned from the latest edition of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley” is that basically only HBO employees and colleagues of Andre Ward find him to be an entertaining fighter. The proof of this? His 2009 contest against Edison Miranda. Yeah, Max Kellerman was actually being serious when he said that. Again, to me, this shows the fundamental handicap of having a program which tries to be a serious news magazine on either HBO or Showtime, networks so engrained in the business of boxing and, for all intents and purposes, partnered up with various promoters and fighters.
 
Lampley and Max got into a conversation about why Ward isn’t popular and Kellerman made a cultural argument, which may or may not have much validity. However, what wasn’t touched upon is the fact that Ward has continually gotten into litigation with his promoter, Dan Goossen, and his own inability to stay healthy and therefore perform consistently while in his prime years (to put this into perspective, over the last several years, Hopkins has been more active than Ward). Those two issues have nothing to do with styles inside the ring but instead Max gave a hard sell on why everyone should enjoy what Ward does, not the actual reasons of why he’s so unpopular. Like Malignaggi’s comments, this came off as a corporate agenda and in all fairness, what else were Kellerman or Lampley really going to really say about a guy who works beside them on telecasts and has so much invested in him by the network and its head, Ken Hershman?
 
But if you’re going to broach such subjects, you have an obligation to be as honest as possible, not skirt the issue. Sergey Kovalev and Stevenson’s reluctance to face him were brought up. Well, that certainly seems to be the case but if they do talk about this more down the line, will they bring up the fact that HBO dropped the ball by not locking in a Kovalev-Stevenson match-up before their doubleheader last November 30th?
 
I applaud what this show is attempting to do (and a show of this nature is needed) but I do wonder if it can properly meet its objectives on its current platform.
 
- I really enjoyed “The Road to Marquez-Alvarado” on HBO. I think it really hit upon the importance of this crossroads match-up between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado and put the proper perspective of this promotion (which sees the Fabulous Forum, where Marquez cut his teeth as a prospect, reopen its doors for boxing). Like many others in Southern California, May 17th can’t come fast enough for me.
 
Alvarado’s trainer, Shann Vilhauer might have made the understatement of the century when he said “Mile High” Alvarado had “distractions” in Denver. That’s like saying the Titanic hit a block of ice and had some problems.
 
- “All Access: Mayweather-Maidana” on Showtime isn’t anything new that we haven’t seen from Mayweather in the past. The bottom line is if you like yourself some ’”Money,” you’ll tune in. If you’re repulsed by his decadence, you probably won’t. What I found eye-opening is Showtime devoted time to the departed “Ms. Jackson,” formerly Floyd’s significant other, who either quit the (Money) team or was put on waivers. They even went as far as to show her now-empty closets and shoe racks. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Mayweather, who has a say in the production, wanted to send a message to his ex.
 
Poor Ms Jackson…and, literally, I mean “poor” Ms. Jackson.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
 
Was hoping prospect Felix Verdejo would get more than 74 seconds worth of action this weekend but it’s clear he creates a certain energy and passion with the Puerto Rican partisans whenever he fights...Brandon Adams vs. Willie Monroe Jr. should be a decent “Boxcino” middleweight tournament final...The Warriors vs. Clippers should be a great series...So hold on; Papa Pope is actually more evil than Mama Pope on ABC’s “Scandal”?...Seriously, how heavy did Adrien Broner look on the Showtime broadcast?...Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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